Burnside water rates, resort annexation among August council business

·4 min read

Aug. 4—Iconic hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan famously rapped that "cash rules everything around me." Truly, for a municipal entity like the Burnside city government, dealing with money, coming and going, is simply a way of life.

Most of the Burnside City Council's actions at the August meeting on Monday were rather vanilla administrative necessities, but musts nonetheless. Chief among them were the second readings of ordinances 2022-006 and 2022-007, which amend previous ordinances regarding the city's water and sewer departments.

The changes themselves are not to increase the rates. Rather, the city is changing the wording to say that on the 15th day of July, for each future fiscal year, the water and wastewater rates will increase according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

Unfortunately, as Mayor Robert Lawson noted, that does mean an increase in rates is taking place — an 8.6 percent increase, in fact.

"It's the biggest increase since 1986 because it's the biggest inflation since 1986," said Lawson. "I hate it. I hate it for our citizens."

When asked if the city's recent work on its formerly ailing water lines has helped produce any savings, Lawson said that it had perhaps in reducing leakage and issues like that, but "we're spending more and more on chemicals. The price of everything has gone up."

The council gave second readings to the two ordinances referencing the Consumer Price Index adjustments, approving them, as well as a first reading (with no vote taken yet) on ordinance no. 2022-008, which would annex Lake Cumberland Resort III into Burnside as requested by the business' owner. The city had previously passed annexation taking in Lake Cumberland shoreline to get to the property, owned by Lowery & Pulliam Investments LLC on Roberts Bend Road in the Keno area, and now begins the process of actually taking the resort into the city, to allow its restaurant facility to sell alcoholic beverages, allowable under Burnside city law.

Perry Dobbs, a clergyman with Mt. Union Baptist Church in the Burnside area, returned to the meeting after previous visits to again voice his objection to the annexation based on his personal religious beliefs, and presented another petition containing names of others in the area also opposed to the move.

Another money-related item addressed by the council on Monday was approving cash to be put into the Dream Big Burnside Fund to help the city's tourism board pay a $7,500 attorney bill. That's their half of the payment for a title opinion sought to aid in efforts by the Dream Big Burnside Authority to develop Burnside Island; Pulaski economic organization SPEDA has paid the other half of the total $15,000 cost.

Lawson noted that previous tourism director Frank Crabtree Jr. had pledged to put the full amount in, but the mayor recommended the city not put in that much; rather, after talking with the tourism board, it was recommended to put $10,000 into the Dream Big Burnside account to cover the fees and have some left over for operating expenses.

There is a stipulation: In the event of the dissolution of the Dream Big Burnside Authority, all unused funds would be returned to the City of Burnside, and no portion of the funds given by the city would be used to pay the authority's legal fees above and beyond that initial $7,500.

One area in which the city is able to save money is in obtaining a new tornado siren to place at the city's fire station. Earlier in the year, the council voted to purchase a siren but "as it worked out, we're going to get one pretty much donated by the county (government)," said Lawson.

"We still don't have it, we thought it would be in by the end of June, and we couldn't have got it any quicker if we'd bought it, because it's coming from the same company" said the mayor. He said that he expects the siren to arrive in the next couple of weeks.

In other city council business:

—Pastor Billy Miller of Jordan Baptist Church stopped by the council to ask about closing an unused street near the church to use the land to expand.

Lawson explained to the Commonwealth Journal that the plat was never developed and it's unclear whether the road that was supposed to be there even exists anymore. Burnside City Attorney Molly Hardy is looking into the matter to see what can be done.

—The city received one bid for its current street blacktopping project for Wallace Avenue and Wayland Drive, from Hinkle Contracting, coming in at $45,750. Unfortunately, the city has only about $36,000 in the budget for the project, observed Lawson.

The council discussed holding a special-called meeting coming up to address the bid situation.

—Burnside Police Chief Mike Hill said Det. Phillip Woodall has retired and they are currently seeking a replacement. They've done a number of interviews and are in the process of background investigation. Also, Hill said, Burnside Police purchased a Dodge Durango for patrol units and a replacement truck that Hill will operate; the old truck will be moved on to the city's water department.